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How to Launch a High-Value Course in 10 Steps
Use the power of prototyping, lean building & product validation to rapidly achieve Course Market Fit
One question I get asked a lot is, how do I know if my course idea is a good one? If I build it, will they come?
Here’s my simple 10-step process to empower anyone to test their course idea & build a high-value course with minimal risk.
Identify an unsolved problem in the market.
Start by identifying a problem or gap in the market that you want to serve.
The easiest way? Look at the courses, books, subscriptions & other products that your target audience is already consuming. Talk to your audience & validate what you think will solve their pain and deliver delight.
This will reveal an underserved niche, which will be the focus for your Minimal Viable Course (MVC).
Do your research.
Dive deeper into conversations about the problem you’ve found and develop an in depth understanding of where existing potential solutions fall short.
Check Trustpilot, Quora, Twitter & platforms where your people hang out and talk about what they like, want & need. This will help you understand the landscape & identify potential gaps in competitive solutions.
Find your specific value.
Create a list of key course features that fill the gaps that you have discovered. This will likely include things like a niche topic, a skill your target learners want to develop and/or an appetite to connect with a community within your niche.
To truly solve the problem and bring value to your target learners, you will need to deliver on these features.
Prioritise your features based on a) their potential impact and b) the resources required to implement them. Execution & drop-out risk is real: make sure you only promise what you can deliver.
Build out a prototype [landing page].
Create a prototype of your course. This should be a simple landing page with an overview of the course content, experience & value and the cost.
The goal is to get a sense of how the course and the overall experience will look and feel so that you can put it in front of potential users and get their feedback.
Find your beta learners & run initial testing.
Your beta learners are the same people you had conversations with when you started the process along with the people who register interest via your prototype. You should tap into your network and ask people who fit your target profile to meet for a coffee to walk through your prototype.
Restate the problem you’re trying to solve, share your landing page & course design in more detail & ask if they'd be willing to try it at a reduced cost in exchange for early feedback. If they say yes, you’re on to something.
Use a lean building approach to build an MVC.
Build out your MVC using tools you already know how to use.
This means focusing on the core features and functionality & avoiding unnecessary complexity, bells and whistles.
Make use of no-code tools like Carrd & Stripe to deliver a *good enough* MVP to learn and iterate. Don’t get distracted by things like the quality of your video: what matters most is the value that you deliver via your support & expertise, not your production values.
Get testing & learning.
Test your MVC with your target audience to gather feedback and make any necessary adjustments. There will be necessary adjustments, and this is fine.
Focus on gathering feedback & data on things like who you’re attracting and what they like most about the course. Ask them how they think it could do an even better job of resolving their pain & delivering delight and follow their lead.
The big question you should ask yourself at every step is: does this solve the big problem I identified in step 1?
8. Launch v1.
Now you have data, you can build with reduced risk and increased confidence. Use what you learned from your MVC to iterate your design & delivery and build v1.
Start to build excitement around your product. Write weekly long & short form content about the pain your target audience feels and offer your course as a solution. Offer discounts for referrals from your early adopters. Be present and active on the platforms where your audience hang out.
9. Continue to test & learn.
Gather data and feedback from your users. Use this information to improve and iterate on your course over time.
Does the value that you delivered to your beta learners prove to be true across a wider audience of users? If yes, you’re progressing towards Course Market Fit - keep going!
Continuously monitor and analyse learner behaviour and feedback to identify areas for improvement & expansion.
Don’t get distracted by outspoken individuals - focus on themes in pain & delight.
Develop & expand.
As your course gains traction and proves its value (i.e. achieves Course Market Fit), continue to develop and expand the product to meet the evolving needs of users.
Look for areas to increase attraction & retention, reduce drop-out and solve additional problems that your users identify.
Create additional courses for your target audience as and when you find new areas of pain. Or, expand your business by changing elements of your course to reach a new audience.
In early 2023, I’ll launch a course to help aspiring & existing course creators to build winning courses, supported by me. If you’d like to stay up to date & learn more, you can register your interest here.
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